In Educational Inequality and School Finance, Bruce D. Baker offers a comprehensive examination of how US public schools receive and spend money. Drawing on extensive longitudinal data and numerous studies of states and districts, he provides a vivid and dismaying portrait of the stagnation of state investment in public education and the continuing challenges of achieving equity and adequacy in school funding.
Baker explores school finance, the school and classroom resources derived from school funding, and how and why those resources matter. He provides a critical examination of popular assumptions that undergird the policy discourse around school funding—notably, that money doesn’t matter and that we are spending more and getting less—and shows how these misunderstandings contribute to our reluctance to increase investment in education at a time when the demands on our educational system are rising.
Through an introduction to the concepts of adequacy, equity, productivity, and efficiency, Baker shows how these can be used to evaluate policy reforms. He argues that we know a great deal about the role and importance of money in schools, the mechanisms through which money matters for student outcomes, and the trade-offs involved, and he presents a framework for designing and financing an equitable and adequate public education system, with balanced and stable sources of revenue.
Educational Inequality and School Finance takes an issue all too often relegated to technical experts and makes it accessible for broader public empowerment and engagement.